Happy Sunday, sewing peeps!
How’re things in your neck of the woods? I for one am glad that the totally savage heatwave is over (can it be autumn now plz?), but on the flip side, it meant I got to wear a cool new hat that I made 🤩(Technically I didn’t ‘make’ the hat… but pfffff)
I’ve always had a soft spot for tie-dye. I’m a hippy at heart, and tie-dye is basically hippy uniform, amirite? When I realised that the sun rays shining down on the concrete jungle that is London were burning skin after about eight seconds of exposure, I knew I needed a sun hat. But not just any old sun hat – what I wanted was a tie-dye sun hat. Did I want to sew myself a hat? Not really, because of the current lack of sew-jo. I looked on eBay and Etsy, and every other site I could think of that might sell a tie-dye bucket hat, but I couldn’t find one that ticked both the ‘colour’ box and the price box – did I want to pay £40 for a hat? No. Not really.
I’d been wanting to tie-dye a t-shirt for a while, so I thought – why don’t I test out my techniques on a hat first?! Yes. Genius, Sarah.
So I started scouring t’internet for supplies I would need in order to make this happen, and decided that ice-dye looked cooler than tie-dye. RIT powdered dye seemed to be the most popular to use for that, which was harder than you’d think to find – everywhere was sold out of the colours I wanted 😩 I snagged the last available box of magenta off eBay, and still haven’t been able to find a purple. Maybe people are dyeing loads of stuff in lockdown?! Who knows 🤷🏻♀️
In the end I found a hat on Amazon (it seems they really do sell everything) for about six quid – a plain, white, cotton bucket hat. Exactly what I had in mind, and the perfect base for dyeing. It says it’s a mens hat, and I’m not sure what that means about the size of my head… 🤔
To actually dye the thing, I needed a bowl, a food cooling rack for the melted ice to drip through, and some ice cubes. Well, my ‘cheap’ DIY Hat was suddenly becoming more expensive because despite rummaging around in the garage it seemed I didn’t have an old washing up bowl, and I only had a couple of cooling racks that were my mums (and therefore from the 70s, likely) and looked like they would rust if they came in contact with water, and I only had the ice-cube-bag-things, not an actual tray. So I hit up Amazon (again) for a washing up bowl (about £4), a wire rack (another £4) and a couple of large ice cube trays (an extortionate £12 or something). I told myself that these can be reused when I eventually get round to dyeing the t-shirt, so the cost per use would decrease… 😂 Sure.
Once all my supplies had arrived, we were graced with a nice sunny day – so of course, I decided right there and then that I was ready to go with the dye. Then as I was reading the back of the dye box I saw those fateful words – pre-wash your fabric/garment. FFS. In the machine the hat went, on a quick cycle, with me impatiently eyeing up the countdown timer 👀
When it was done, the husbeast fetched the bowl and the rack, and we began.
You’re meant to crumple up the thing you’re dyeing into a tight ball, but the brim of the hat has interfacing in which made it pretty difficult to scrunch it up. So I sort of crumpled the main body of the hat and hoped it would do… 🤷🏻♀️
You put the ice on the damp fabric first – and the more ice the better. Two trays of ice cubes barely covered the hat, but that was all we had so it would have to do. I had ignored the dye packet’s advice to wear gloves – gloves shmoves 😂 but their advice turned out to be sound as I was scrubbing dye off my hands for a fair few days afterwards. WEAR YO GLOVES.
I sprinkled the dye over the hat randomly, in no kind of real pattern, trying to make sure everywhere had a little bit. In my little bit of hasty research, I had read that less is more but I was so worried that it might come out with white patches (ew, just no) that I might have gone a little overboard. The idea is that the powder sits on top of the ice, and then the dye dissolves as the ice melts, hopefully making a nice pattern.
It was a hot summers day, so I reckon it only took an hour to melt the ice. I kept checking on it like every five minutes, obvs 😂👀
(I bet that bug had some funky coloured feet after landing on my ice cubes…)
When it was done, you’re meant to wrap the thing in cling film and microwave it – the heat helps the dye set, apparently. We don’t have a microwave (our kitchen is like the smallest EVER, there defo ain’t room for another appliance) so thankfully they give the alternative option of just leaving it out in the sun for an hour. So that’s what we did 💁🏻♀️
When it came to unwrapping it and rinsing it, I was a little nervous that it looked a bit… well, crap really. There were what looked like black splodges, and some brown. Ewwww. Not the colours I had in mind. As I was rinsing it though, it seemed to be getting a bit lighter and more colourful, and less brown, so I was hopeful that it might yet be okay. Once the water ran clear the hat went into the washing machine for a 30-degree cycle to finish it off.
Well, when it came out of the machine, it was a changed hat! Those black splodges, whatever they were, were gone, and the colours were SO much prettier!
Once the hat was dry, I did the final inspection. I was happy with the way that my random dyeing came out, and although the colours were nice, they were a little bit more faded than I’d hoped. Never mind, we’ll call it the vintage look. I think I would have got brighter colours with traditional liquid dyes, but it’s cool. Maybe I’ll try that next time. I’m not sure how well the dye will last with repeated washing, but the hat isn’t something I’m planning on washing too frequently so hopefully, that shouldn’t matter.
The hat fits well, keeps the sun out of my eyes, and is totally rocking the summer hippie vibes ✌🏻
(and say hai to my overgrown back garden, lol)
I’d like a tie-dye t-shirt (or even some jeans!) as well – I’m not sure how well my dyeing method would translate to larger garments, but I guess there’s only one way to find out! Perhaps I’ll test out my skills on some store-bought clothing though before I start sewing things only to ruin them with my crappy dyeing skills 😂
Have you dipped your toe into the world of tie-dyeing? Let me know how it went if you have! (and plz give me tips 😘)
In other news, I’m still reading like there’s no tomorrow, and I recently finished The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats. I went through most of the book feeling a bit disappointed in something that had been bigged up so much, but then it redeemed itself greatly at the end and now I find myself actually wanting to read the second one. After that, I read (re-read, as this book came my way maybe 10-15 years ago) The Road Home by Rose Tremain, and it was nowhere near as good as I remember. Now I’m on The Secret History by Donna Tartt, after so many of you recommended it. I loved The Goldfinch, and although The Secret History is good so far, I’m not sure it’s quite as good as The Goldfinch. We’ll see 👀
Oh! I also have BREAKING NEWS. I HAVE SEWN MYSELF AN ITEM OF CLOTHING. Looking at this blog, you would be forgiven for thinking that sewing myself clothing is something that I seem to do a lot of the time, and is hardly worthy of breaking news. And usually, you’d be right – but this year’s been a bit of a weird one, not just for me but for many of us I’m sure. It seems that a global pandemic really sucks the creative vibes right outta ya.
At the start of the year, I was focusing most of my time on revising for a Data Privacy exam that I was taking at the start of March (I passed, woo) and right after that we went to New York just as the pandemic hit, and we got back home by the skin of our teeth just before the EU closed its borders. When it became apparent that we’d be working from home for the foreseeable future, I thought to myself OH MY GAAAAD YASSSSSSS THINK OF ALL THE EXTRA SEWING TIME I WILL HAVE NOW 🤩 But it never really panned out like that. I had all of a sudden lost enthusiasm for something I enjoyed that used to be such a big part of my life, and no sewing took place.
The meh-ness continued for another four months. I didn’t sew a single piece of clothing and didn’t have any desire to. If I’m honest, I began to wonder whether it would ever return… I had some lovely pieces of fabric stashed away that I hadn’t got round to sewing with yet – had I missed my chance? I hoped not. I was, however, having a lot of fun sewing my first quilt, so I wasn’t totally ignoring the sewing machine, which was something.
After having a little wardrobe clear out a couple of weeks ago (and by ‘little’ I mean ruthless and I pared down considerably) and discovering that several of my T-shirt’s had holes in them (😳), I had a look online for some replacements. Which made me remember why I made my own clothes. Still not feeling like sewing (despite my grumbling about the lack of things I liked for sale online) it was actually my nemesis that turned the tide: the London summer heatwave. We’re originally from East Anglia – Suffolk, to be more precise – where there are lots of fields and green stuff but which means that when it’s cold, it’s cold. I frequently remember seeing minus temperatures in the winter, and have a distinct memory of getting in my car one day to go to work and reading -10 on the display. Double figures. Once we moved to London, I discovered that the opposite is true – when it’s hot, it’s hot. I barely see minus temperatures in the winter, but a bit of sun and all of a sudden we’re sweating in 35 degrees. 38 I think is the highest I’ve seen, and I cycled home in that amongst London traffic. Rather, I sweated home in that, and I’d rather not ever have to do that again. So when the brutally savage weather hit a couple of weeks ago, I busted out the airiest, coolest clothing that I had in an attempt to just get through the day. Whilst there was an emergency ASOS order placed for some shorts, I was actually loving wearing my Seamwork Catarina Dress – but sweating as much as I was, the limit of ‘wears before washing’ was barely one day. If anything was going to make the heatwave more bearable, it was more of these dresses. And the only way I was going to get more was to make them myself. I ordered some rayon from fabric.com, and another pretty piece of turquoise tie-dye rayon that I’d been eyeing on Etsy for a while that I decided now was the time to treat myself to. I needed all the encouragement possible in order to get my ass back to sewing clothes.
Well guys, I made the dress. AND I LOVE IT 😍 I’ve even cut out another one from that turquoise rayon. I wouldn’t quite say I’m on a roll, but I’m maybe on a slight downward incline, gaining speed ever so slowly.
In a weird balance of good vs bad – yin and yang has to be equal I suppose – we both still (thankfully) have our jobs, but we lost our little kitty-cat Kovu to kidney cancer. We took him to the vet maybe three weeks ago for a goopy eye (which turned out to be a mild conjunctivitis) and a general check over as he’d lost a bit of weight and hadn’t been eating much lately – and we came away with a kidney cancer diagnosis, and a prognosis of maybe a couple of months. Well, he made it almost three weeks before we knew it was his time. He is sixteen, so he’s had a good run bless him (he even came with us when we lived in Malaysia for a bit, so he’s well-travelled 💁🏻♀️) and we totally spoiled him for his last days. I’m grateful that we were able to be at home with him during the day, rather than being out at the office, and although we miss him we’re happy that he’s now reunited with his sister and they can once again be a tag-team who scores birds, mice, and somehow even rabbits…
I‘m definitely feeling the effects of very little outdoors-time and exercise now – I used to love my cycle commute to work, but I’ve done barely anything for the last few months, and given that I’m working from home for likely the rest of the year, that doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon. A couple of months back I had the urge to go for a run – something I used to do regularly and love, over the last eight years or more – but stopped abruptly maybe a year or so ago. I remember the particular run that did it – I was running along the north bank of the Thames in the summer on my lunch break, when all of a sudden I just thought OMG I am so bored. One foot in front of the other for three miles, what’s the point in this? And I hung up my trainers when I eventually made it back to the office. Life had been a bit up and down in the years leading up to that moment, and that was likely a down patch where I just thought sod it I’d rather be fat 😂
But a couple of months back, that urge returned – I only made it two breathless miles though and my muscles hurt for dayz afterwards, and I wondered how I could have possibly enjoyed something that broke me so badly. I’ve now realised that I’m nowhere near as fit as I used to be, and if I want to run like I did in t’olden days (albeit a bit slower now that I’m a few years older, I’m sure) then I’ve got to put the work in. So, Couch To 5k for me and the husbeast it is. It feels slightly disheartening to go from running a half marathon in under two hours several years back (something I trained hard for and was SO pleased to achieve), to alternating running and walking in ninety-second intervals and getting properly out of breath – especially when I can cycle fifty miles with little problem – but there you go. I just need to get out and move, and if thirty minutes of running-slash-walking is the start of that journey, then cool beans, I’ll go with it. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back up to running several miles in one go again, because I now remember that the point of putting one foot in front of the other for mile after mile is to be outside in the fresh air, to have the freedom to go wherever I want, to keep my body healthy and moving but most importantly keep my mind healthy, too. And I definitely could do with all of the above right now.
Enthusiasm for doing stuff seems to come in waves at the moment, I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that I haven’t sewn much this year but instead grab the opportunities to do things I enjoy as and when they come. Which is why moving forwards, I won’t be posting to a set schedule here on the blog, like I have done since pretty much the dawn of blog-time. I’ll be posting more randomly, as and when I can – because you guys know that I put my heart and soul into each post, and it would break my heart to just write because it’s time to write. Writing is hard when your friends are losing their jobs, your brain feels like cotton wool and you feel like eating Angel Delight for breakfast. I have many pre-pandemic makes that need to be photographed, but I’m not really tres enthused about trekking to my fave photo shoot location on public transport right now – so those makes might come along in a few months, or if/when I find a decent location that’s closer to home. Sticking to a regular posting schedule here on le blog just isn’t compatible with the current rollercoaster ride that is life at the moment, so, from now on, posts will be more free-flowing. It might be three weeks between posts. Or four. Or more. Or less. Nobody knows. I don’t even know. I might occasionally just write a post to say hey, check in and see how you guys are all doing and give you some updates on the things that have been going through my sewing machine. Believe me, I’m just as surprised to be saying this as you likely are to be hearing it, and if you’d told me six months ago that this is where we’d be at I wouldn’t have believed you, given that this blog has been a huge part of my life for the last almost-four-years.
But – as they say, the only thing that is constant is change. I’m sure lots of people’s lives have experienced changed priorities and shifting focuses over the course of this year, and hopefully for the better. Reading this lot back I sound like a proper bloody sadsack (😂) but it’s just that I’m finding my joy in different things these days – knitting, quilting, playing my piano, taking care of my plants (we’re newbie plant parents!), reading (yep, still going hardcore at that) and hopefully running, if it doesn’t kill me or flare up old injuries (right knee, I’m looking at you 👀). I know that there will be a little bit of garment sewing sprinkled amongst that lot here and there, too, but maybe not in the volumes that there has been previously. Sewing used to be the main (sole, really) source of my creativity and enjoyment, but it seems that COVID took a hammer to that, and the smashed fragments got distributed into other, long forgotten, buckets. And I’m going to be dipping my hands into all of those buckets for as long as they remain full 🤗
So, I want to send out much love to all of you guys that read the blog – thank you, truly, for giving up your time to read my ramblings – and I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far. I’m certain there is still a way to go – after all, I’m still harbouring that piece of autumnal/rusty red Parisian cashmere that’s just begging to become a Dior winter coat (and I even have the perfect golden leopard print lining fabric to compliment it), and I’ve got a couple of silks that are earmarked to become shirts – so it ain’t over yet, fo sho.
Until next time 💜
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